Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Movie Review: Amityville II: The Possession

 One of the creepiest aspects of the Amityville movies is that, like The Exorcist, at least the first two films are based on actual events.  Those events were most likely initially distorted and further embellished in the films, but there were at least two strange happenings not more than a year apart at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville.

 Amityville II: The Possession is in reality the first of the two stories, with the events in the first film happening a year after the events in the second.  The films portray the stories in reverse order, so at first the Lutz's have their horrific encounters with the strange forces in the house, and then the Montelli Family moves in (The Montelli's are the fictional name of the DeFeo Family).  Of the real story, all that can actually be said is the on November 13th, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. appears to have executed his entire family.  Everything else is pure speculation, with DeFeo suggesting the reason for the killings was revenge against his father more often than demonic possession.  DeFeo appears to have been a drug addict, and may have simply been motivated by the possibility of collecting on the life insurance.  The only things truly odd about the actual murders is that no gunshots were heard by neighbors, the rapid succession of killings suggests more than one shooter, and each victim was found laying face down in their beds in their rooms throughout the house with no obvious signs of a struggle or being placed there after their deaths.
Puberty; a time when your body experiences changes...

 In the film, when the Montelli's move into their new home, a negative edge almost immediately appears in their personalities.  Objects move on their own, are dropped and shattered, and paint brushes paint a crude drawing on the wall of the youngest children's room, leading to a full-on brawl between the family members and ending only when Sonny Montelli puts a rifle to his father's head.

...and these become super-important.
 Things only escalate when the mother attempts to involve a local Catholic Priest, first insisting that the family go to church services, then asking the priest to come bless the house.  Sonny is left alone during the first trip to church in the home, not feeling well.  While alone, he is assaulted and possessed by the spirits of the house.  His possession causes him to be come more vile and depraved, having an incestual relationship with his sister, and eventually killing his entire family.

 The priest, convinced that Sonny is possessed, struggles to get the Church to allow an exorcism.  When the church refuses, he takes matters into his own hands.  This is one of the weak points in the writing.  Once the murders occur, the film essentially becomes like every other exorcism film modeled after The Exorcist, down almost to the same ending.  

Sometime I feel like there is a monster inside of me. Oh, wait...
 The special effects are great for the time the film was made (1982), making good use of traditional techniques without being obvious.  The blood tends to be a little thick and foamy throughout.  The acting is simply over-the-top, but I think that was intentional.  Each character becomes an exaggeration; the father is overly strict and brutal, the mother overly jealous and ineffectual, the sister overly seductive and naive (you just strip nude for your older brother at the mere suggestion?), and the younger siblings perfectly innocent.  When you consider what is being portrayed, Amityville II takes some huge risks.  In my opinion, this was better than the first film.    


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